Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Challenges of Growth: Followup

It's our goal to help local merchants attract customers easily and effectively on the web. The last thing we would want is to cause any confusion for business owners. We take that very personally. We sincerely apologize and are completely dedicated to addressing any and all of the problems that have arisen.

We are addressing the issues at hand in 4 ways.

1) There appears to be a large amount of confusion over "review versus rating" - many merchants did not understand the difference between ratings (quantitative scores - i.e. 1-5 stars) and reviews (qualitative comments - "Good service, great food"). To help address this, effective last week we began changing "review" to "testimonial" on the MerchantCircle site - we hope this removes some of the confusion. Going forward we are looking at further site changes to make the site easier to use and understand.

2) MerchantCircle has responded to every email with a detailed FAQ and a personal response for anyone whose question was not addressed by the FAQ. If anyone still has questions, they can email - we are currently responding to all in-bound emails within 1 business day. Anyone who wants to have their listing page removed can email and include their business name, city, and state and it will be removed within 2 business days.

3) In response to merchant emails, the contact campaign in its current form has been ended. We still want to be able to notify merchants about changes to their page and are evaluating other ways to communicate this information.

4) We received a number of other great suggestions from merchants that we hope to release over the next several weeks. For example, we can do more to prevent inadvertent ratings by site visitors. If anyone has further suggestions, please email

Too often, local business owners don't have the resources to create a presence on the web. We've done it for them for free. The best part is there's no catch for the services MerchantCircle offers.

We provide a web page for each merchant that is optimized for search engines (like Google and Yahoo!) as well as tools that merchants can use to get the word out about their business (blogs, coupons, newsletters).

There are over 14 million local businesses that have pages on MerchantCircle and any merchant can go to and enter their phone # to find their page. Once the page is found, merchants can claim it and update it with any marketing information they choose, or correct any inaccurate contact information. The MerchantCircle service is currently being used by over 50,000 merchants (up from 5,000 at our June launch).

We are a small business, just like many of you out there. Your patronage and experience is our most important concern.

Best Regards,
The MerchantCircle Team

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